‘The closing chapter’: Three Blue Devils reunite at Muddy River Showcase for final game together


From left, Leila Dade, Leah Chevalier and Taylor Fohey | Shane Hulsey photos

QUINCY — Eight years of playing basketball together will come to an end for Leah Chevalier, Leila Dade and Taylor Fohey on Saturday.

Their friendship will last far beyond that.

The three Quincy High School graduates will play together for the final time Saturday in the Muddy River Showcase at John Wood Community College’s Student Activity Center.

“We thought it was over back in February when we lost our regional game,” Fohey said. “But being able to come back out here one more time is just the closing chapter, like we’re officially done with high school.”

Having played together for nearly a decade has formed an unbreakable bond between the three teammates.

“We became friends because of basketball,” Dade said. “We stayed close knit between junior high and high school. All of these girls are my best friends off the court. I’ve been with them so much, it’s like all I’ve ever known. I always hang out with them outside of basketball, too.”

Saturday will provide one more opportunity for that friendship to take center stage.

“This game is really special, that we have one last game to play together,” Chevalier said. “I just think our dynamic is really cool.”

The moment of realization hit Dade while she and Fohey worked at the scorer’s table during the Quincy High School girls basketball shootout last week.

“I told Taylor when we were there, like this is the week we miss basketball,” Dade said. “You’re watching these girls, and you’re like, ‘I was in their shoes last summer.’ It’s those things that you kind of took for granted and you’re looking back on that. I’m excited for the game because I can get that one last time with Leah and Taylor.”

While Fohey is headed to McKendree University to continue her basketball career, Dade has no intentions of playing basketball in college. She is headed to Saint Louis University to pursue a degree in chemistry. This means Dade will only be about 30 minutes away from one of her best friends, and she will preserve a different kind of chemistry.

“We’ve always been in the same classes and hung out outside of school,” Dade said. “It’s nice having her down there because it’s a new city, but having Taylor so close will almost make it like a home away from home. I’m excited to go cheer her on. I’ll still have that basketball aspect of my life. I won’t actually be playing it, but it’ll be nice watching her live out her dream.”

Fohey said the visits will go both ways, though.

“She’s going to drag me to her boyfriend’s track meets, then I’ll make her come to all my games,” Fohey said. “It’ll kind of be like having a piece of home close to you.”

All three players participated in the Westown Ford All-Star Girls Basketball Game in Jacksonville on March 3. Since then, Chevalier admitted to only touching a basketball on a couple occasions.

“Other than that, once in my driveway. Then I played knockout at an elementary school. That’s it,” she said.

With a commitment to play Division II basketball, Fohey has continued her workouts., However, a new sport has worked its way into the mix.

“I try to get up in the morning and go work out, run and whatever I have to do, then go to work until 4 or 5 and hopefully get some shots up eventually, and play a lot of pickleball,” Fohey said.

How have those pickleball skills developed?

“We’ve only been playing consistently for like two or three weeks. It was rough at the beginning, but we’re getting it,” Fohey said. “It’s actually really fun.”

What will also be fun is playing for their high school coach one more time. Brad Dance is the head coach for the Illinois girls team.

“It’s a very full circle moment for my last game,” Dade said. “I get to play with two girls I’ve played with ever since I started my basketball career and finish it out with one of the coaches who believed in me.”

As for Dance’s approach to his first time coaching a showcase game, he plans to take it a little easier than he would for a regular season or playoff game.

“This is new to me,” Dance said. “I’m told I’m not supposed to be stressed out and yell a lot and stuff like that, so we’re just going to let them play a lot more than I normally would.”

Fun will be the theme of the day.

“I think it’s going to be more fun than anything,” Fohey said. “Just going to be good vibes.”

Good vibes, good basketball and even better friends.

Tickets for the Muddy River Showcase are $10
with all seats general admission and all sales at the door.

Miss Clipping Out Stories to Save for Later?

Click the Purchase Story button below to order a print of this story. We will print it for you on matte photo paper to keep forever.

Related Articles